It has sat on my nightstand since the box arrived. The last book you sent to be opened, all in God's timing. It has slowed me down. It has made me stop when I would normally read to the back cover and be done in a day, I have paused, mid-chapter, mid-page, mid-sentence even to savor, to understand, to listen. I can be out in the garden working the soil and it will reverberate in my soul..."I can slow time with the weight of my attention." I can be in conversation with WG and hear her (His) words pour over my heart. I curl up each night craving and not altogether certain I am ready for the next nugget.
But tonight I sit, knowing that once again, He has used you in my life to teach me. He has used you to tell me exactly in a box sent long ago, what I needed to hear today.
I was grateful today, that the pink slips, six in number, did not come to my classroom, to my desk. I was grateful, today, for the email from a parent telling me how I have touched her daughter. I was grateful, today, for someone to be there, sitting on the deck with me, listening to my lament (complaint?) about how it was handled, how it was done. I was grateful, today for the listening ear on the other end of the line, telling me, from experience, that I could do this. I could make the change to first grade next year and live to tell the tale.
But in all my gratitude, I still held onto resentment. I wanted to be oh so thankful that my worries over paychecks and bills and a teen with college not too far off, and the house, and all that is in life, and I was, in large part thankful. But not completely. I wanted it all. I wanted Room 11. I wanted the children that make me teary-eyed with only 11 days left. I wanted the nine-year old humor, not the 6 year old neediness. I wanted it my way for true gratitude.
But God knows. He pushed me to bed early. With papers to grade and plans to create, he put instead, the book in my hand once again. I sat with a beautiful bowl - "the perfect size for cobbler" as James would say - full of just that, which reminds me again of him, of his appreciation, his adoration, his contenment in warm peaches with cold ice cream and I am grateful for each part of that moment. From gifted bowl, to the sense of appreciation topped off with comfort food that tickles my own soul, I feel as though I am weighing down time, slowing the moment to savor and remember and be grateful. But God wasn't through with me there. Gratitude isn't just a feeling sitting in bed under the cool ceiling fan on a warm late-spring night. As Voskamp says, "Eucharisteo means 'to give thanks' and give is a verb, something that we do. God calls me to do thanks. To give thanks away. That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living. That our lives become the very blessings we have received."
It is not for me to sit here and be full of gratitude for the blessings He has given me. It is not for me to sit and think, "Whew! No pink slip for me!" and then turn my heart coldly to God for change in classrooms. I am to turn my gratitude, my blessings into a blessing for others. I am to take all the blessings I have been filled with this year and turn them into blessings for the first graders in my care next year. Quoting Tagore, the author says, "I slept and dreamt life was joy, I awoke and saw life was service, I acted and, behold, service was joy."
And so shall it be. Room 11 and the 27 third graders that have touched my daily existence this year will perhaps never leave my soul. But the joy, the blessings will be multiplied when I chose to become the gift, become the blessing next year to my new students.
And may all glory be to Him that deserves it. And you, Stacy, for once again, delivering His message. You, too, are a gift.